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CBI to probe fund scam

Cuttack, Dec. 12: The alleged multi-crore Balasore chit fund scam involving Fine Indisales Private Limited gathered fresh heat today with Orissa High Court ordering a CBI probe on Bangalore-based All India Networkers’ Welfare Trust’s petition seeking refund of money invested by its members with the same online marketing company.

The fund scam involved collection of crores from over a lakh poor and unsuspecting depositors in Odisha by offering attractive rates of interest and returns and diverting them to other companies and use in several other aspects which impinge on financial regulations of the country and Reserve Bank of India guidelines.

The scam relating to the controversial chit fund such as money circulation business by multi-level marketing firms, one of them which was Fine Indisales had surfaced in 2009 Niranjan Sahoo lodged an FIR against the company in Balasore.

Later, the CID-crime branch had taken over the case. In the course of investigation, the CID-Crime Branch had resorted to freezing the bank accounts of Fine Indisales Private Limited.

Fine Indisales Private Limited had filed a writ petition in Orissa High Court seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings.

All India Networkers’ Welfare Trust filed the petition in March 2013, to seek refund of money invested by its members from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The division bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra today asked the CBI to probe on the matter and submit a status report within three months. The court said the issue of refund will be considered thereafter.

“More than Rs 100 crore was invested with Fine Indisales Private Limited by members of the trust who are poor people of the society working as rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, Class-IV employees of private companies, hotels, tea shop owners, cabin holders, etc”, the trust had claimed in the petition.

“Each of them deposited/ subscribed Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 for purchase of the purported product as published in website in different banks in the name of Fine Indisales Private Limited. But the company failed to send any product or benefits to the investors”, the petition alleged.

The trust’s president K. Selvaraj filed the petition after demand by the investors online through the company’s website for refund of deposited amount yielded no result. According to the petition the company had in its website published: “Refund option has been suspended awaiting results from appropriate company court and the matter is pending before Orissa High Court”.

The court also directed the crime branch to assist the CBI in investigation.

Earlier, in pursuance of court's direction the trust had submitted the list of its members along with other details on March 28. Five directors of Fine Indisales Private Limited, including its chief Naseer Khan had also appeared in person on that day and surrendered their passports following court order.

The CID-Crime Branch had arrested Naseer Khan in connection with the Balasore chit fund scam on October 20, 2009. But the court allowed him bail on personal bond on the same day.